[Reviewed by stark]
It’s good to see that the Rage In Eden label is open to new sounds and musical styles. A couple of years ago, it was one of the most resilient post-industrial labels in Europe. They became quite popularity here in Poland and Europe as well, but focusing on martial industrial in the time when this subgenre is in decline caused – using the sport terminology – a relegation to the second division.
Noxvox is a band I would never assosciate with Rage In Eden; you know, marching drums, bombastic melodies and historical speeches were the trademark of this label: after all, it was formerly known as War Office Propaganda.
Out of the blue they present “Niedowidzenia” to the world, a release containing music which is fragile, ethereal and very emotional. It is focused on feelings like love and loss. Literally, the title of the album means “amblyopias” (yes, plural) but I doubt the guys used it in the medical context; I prefer something like “the feeling of not seeing clearly”, though the Polish language is full of nuances so I’m not sure if its the perfect translation. It fits the overall character of the album though, believe me: an album which is blurry and full of transitory impressions… so faint that you’re not even sure they ever existed.
Not only are the emotions distant from what you’re used to when listening to Rage In Eden material, but the musical style is different as well. They combine dark wave, 80s synth and sometimes ambient with a neoclassic touch. In several compositions there’s a specific Middle Eastern feeling; maybe I’m not seeing clearly, but from time to time I perceive the remote spirit of Dead Can Dance somewhere on the horizon. While the singing manner is rather close to Elend’s male vocalist, circa the “Winds Devouring Men” era (although that guy was heavily influenced by Brendan Perry, thus closing the circle), I wanted to mention Polish cult act Księżyc also but no, Księżyc are one of a kind. The fact that a few sounds or atmospheres share common ground doesn’t authorize me to build a bridge between these two bands. I hope Noxvox achieve a similar stature to Księżyc one day – they obviously have a lot of talent, sensitivity and imagination; some fragments remind me of Antlers Mulm, or even Bvdub (“Biały Szum”) too.
This dispersion of styles is obvious, but rarely confusing. There’s a central concept behind all this which they control almost all the time. There are Polish lyrics but I won’t be analyzing them here as they don’t convince me much, its a matter of taste I guess. The vocal parts could be recorded a bit better though, at certain moments they’re too indistinct to me – maybe it was intentional, as the person behind the mastering is Marcin Cichy from Skalpel – hence, a fellow who knows his job. All in all, it is a highly enjoyable release. The Polish alternative scene is one of the most resilient in the world these days; since Noxvox haven’t been featured in magazines like The Quietus or Pitchfork (yet) as several other amazing projects from my country have, it’s further proof that the sky is the limit for Polish artists.